Birth Order

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Sigmeund Freud was the first psychotherapist to say: "a child's position in the sequence of brother and sisters is of very great significance for one course of his later life" (Richardson 12). One's birth order position (whether born first, second, last, etc.), one's sex (male or female), and the sex of one's siblings affects the kind of person one becomes. People often say they can't understand "how people from the same family can be so different". What they do not realize is that each sibling is born into a different family. Each new child needs to create a unique identity separate from the others. However this new identity is created within the context of those who are already there. The people in a family change in many ways between the birth of each new child. Many variables impact on each sibling. These include the physical circumstances in which a family finds itself, (ie. location, income, residents), the emotional stability of the family, (ie. well adjusted parents, parental experience, settled career), and lastly the state in which they find themselves, (ie. decade, wartime, country). These variables mean that each child will be treated differently by parents and siblings and this is done usually unintentionally. One must remember that birth order does not determine the basic values of a person or the person's value to society. It affects social interactions more than attitudes and ethnical stances. Your birth order and sex determines in a large part how other people in your family react to you and treat you which in turn influences what you think about yourself and how you react to and treat others inside and outside the family.

Your birth order and gender affect primarily your social behaviour and how you relate to other people in your life. They affect the way you relate to your spouse, your friends and the skills you bring to parenting. Birth affects what kind of a spouse you will be because of how you grew up. "It is useful to know that something as simple as birth order can account for major conflicts in a relationship and that neither person is to 'blame'" (Richardson 17). When one understands, for example, that an oldest brother of brothers and an oldest sister of sisters are bound to have conflicts over who is in charge, they can stop blaming each other and accept the fact that their marriage is a difficult combination.

Friendships are also affected by birth order. The friends a person gets along well with are likely to be in a complementary birth position. Therefore, non-complementary birth positions may partly explain any tension that exists in the relationship. "If you take note of the kind of relationship you have with various friends and then find out there birth order, you may find that your best friends all have the same birth order" (Richardson 20). While you may have much in common with people in your same birth order, over the long haul you will probably feel most comfortable with friends from a complementary birth order, especially one that matches that of a favourite sibling. (Richardson 23 - 24)

Also, your birth order can affect the kind of parent you are and the kind of relationship you have with your children. "If you are an oldest or a middle child you probably either had some experience or witnessed caring for a younger child" (Richardson 28). Therefore for an oldest and a middle child parenthood may come easily to them and be most fulfilling. These adults may be inclined to take too much responsibility for or be too controlling with their children, however, they may simply be good and nurturing caretakers. On the other hand, if the child is an only child or a last born, the child has not had the chance to observe any parenting other than their own. Therefore these children may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of "being a parent" and unsure about how to do it. Only children and last borns are likely to be less overpowering as a...
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